US Military Pioneers New Solar Power Technologies14:36
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Here & Now Guests:

  • Keith Johnson, Wall Street Journal national security correspondent
  • Dennis Slafer, president and chief technology officer for MicroContinuum, Inc.

Scientists have been searching for years to find the holy grail of solar power-- an efficient and inexpensive way to harvest energy from the sun.

As has often been the case with new technology, the U.S. military is at the forefront of exploration into new and more effective ways to use solar power.

Some U.S. Marines are pioneering new solar technology by taking portable, roll-up "mats" to remote combat outposts where there are no other power sources.

"They could  actually re-power their gear on the move," Wall Street Journal national security correspondent Keith Johnson told Here & Now's Robin Young, speaking about how Marines are using solar power in Afghanistan. "They were able to become a lot more mobile... more lightweight, lethal, effective.  It was a real tactical bonus, and that really surprised the Marine Corps."

A Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company called MicroContinuum, Inc., is developing the same kind of technology for civilian use in the next few years, using plastic as thin as newspaper bags.

This segment aired on June 6, 2011.

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